Bringing Your New Labradoodle Puppy Home
Getting a new puppy is one of the most exciting things for you and your family. New puppies are just so adorable and fun to have around.
How your new puppy is brought into your family has life long implications on how that puppy will develop and grow as a member of your family. (No pressure!). There are some practical things that you need to take care of and make sure are in place and, importantly, some behavioural things.
Remember, the day you bring your puppy home is the day that they have been taken away from their litter mates. It’s their first time on their own in a completely new environment. And they are just 8 weeks old.
Expect them to be a little bit scared by it all. A well-planned homecoming will help them settle into their new home quickly and, just as importantly, will help you to enjoy the experience a whole lot more.
The Practical Stuff - what you should have at home for your new puppy
- A place for your puppy to sleep and something for it to sleep on. Start out as you wish to continue. This place will be your puppy’s ‘safe’ place so it is worth some thought in advance. There are a multitude of dog beds on the market and dog crates are also a great option. With a puppy it’s a good idea to have an area penned off using something like baby gates so it has its own space and doesn’t have full run of your house.
- Puppy food, and food and water bowls – By 8 weeks of age your puppy is weaned from its mother and is eating dry food. it’s always a good idea to continue feeding the puppy on what they are used to eating, at least to start with. Ask us in advance the brand and type of food the puppies are already on so you can help them settle in with what they are familiar with. If you plan to change their diet we recommend you doing so over 2 weeks or so to give their digestive systems a chance to adjust.
- Health care (worming, ticks, fleas, ear care) – Talk to your vet about what they recommend for the area that you live in. Prevention is always better than cure in this case, particularly with ticks which can easily kill a small puppy. Australian labradoodles have ears that hang down so having a mild ear solution and scissors on hand to trim and keep ears clean is also recommended.
- Grooming – we recommend having at least a comb and a soft brush so your puppy gets used to being groomed from an early age. Go gently as their skin is still tender but if done gently this is something a puppy will always look forward to, and it is a great bonding exercise. The coat of an Australian Labradoodle can get long as it grows older so getting your puppy used to being groomed is a necessity.
Hopefully you have had a chance to look through my puppy preparation checklist by this stage too.
The Behavioural Stuff – introducing your puppy to its new family and home
Day 1 with your new puppy is a very important day for you all. Your puppy is going to be nervous at first and will take time getting used to its new family so here are some tips to introduce it in a way that will get you all off to a great start:
- Before you even bring a puppy home, decide on the house do’s and don’ts and make sure all your family members agree. For example, can your puppy sleep on your bed? Can it play on your couch? Can you feed it while you are eating at the table yourself? Where will it go when you need to leave it at home? Being clear on the do’s and don’ts and being consistent and gentle in reinforcing them will create a happy existence for everybody
- When you first collect your puppy try to contain your (and your children’s excitement) for that first cuddle. This can be extremely difficult as they are just so adorable – and have been so anticipated – but being calm and quiet in those few minutes will pay dividends. Let it smell you and feel your calm energy – it is looking for a pack leader in this moment so now is your chance to establish yourself as its new leader.
- When you take it home you should put it in a crate to travel in the car, close so it can still see you. Hold your puppy so it can put its front paws on the car and let it take its first few steps into the vehicle. This is very important. Be patient and let it decide to move forward. Once it has accepted that is where you want it to go quietly put it into its crate, close the door and drive home. It may cry on the way home and this is normal. Let it cry and don’t react. If you fuss over it when it cries in these first few moments you are only teaching it that crying brings more attention and this can create a difficult dog as it grows.
- When you get home follow the same routine as with the car. Let it take the first steps into your house rather than carrying it inside.
- If you have children then they will be desperate to play with it. Calmly introduce the puppy to each child and let everybody get to know each other. Your puppy by now is probably thirsty and exhausted so once the initial introductions are done it is a great opportunity to introduce it to its new sleeping area. You should have a water bowl waiting, and a feed bowl ready to give it some kibble. Let it feed and water, take it outside so it can toilet, then put it back in its pen for its first big sleep in its new home 🙂
- Let your puppy explore its new home but under supervision. Its amazing how quickly a puppy can get into something it shouldn't! Some will be more nervous than others. Be patient. They have just left everything that they know and are on their own for the first time ever. They need to learn to trust you and their new environment and this will take a week or two. Don't force them to do things or go to places eg. outside, if it makes them really anxious - they will get there eventually but one step at a time.
The first five months - sets their behaviour for life
The behavioural aspects of bringing home a new puppy and raising a puppy are so important. The first five months of a puppy's life are what sets its behaviour for life so it is extremely important to avoid traumatic experiences. This can include fear reactions when you take them into a new environment so be observant and intuitive and manage these gently if they happen. Sometimes you might need to relax your rules or adapt your expectations for a bit to help build their confidence.
Puppies are an absolute joy and they will quickly settle into their new home. Giving them a great introduction and clearly defining their routine and boundaries from the outset will make them feel more secure in the long run, and this makes for a long and happy family relationship with your new furr-friend.
There is a lot of pressure these days for the 'perfect puppy'. There is no such thing as perfect - each dog has its own personality and traits and, just like us, we work with what we have.
With a labradoodle though you have a breed that is naturally inclined to want to please you and to be part of the family so its a great foundation. You can expect a joyful experience raising a puppy that is full of personality, intelligence and love.
See my puppy care notes for more tips